Archives for posts with tag: health

If you want to lose weight, there’s always the option of eating less. Of course, that may be too complicated a solution for many of us who want to see quick results, like losing eight pounds before going out for dinner tonight with friends we haven’t seen since high school.

Instead, you could always follow one of these popular dieting plans:

The Atkins Diet. Named after the renowned guitarist Chet Atkins, this diet requires you to try to eat while you are also trying to remember the chord progression of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” Nutritionally speaking, this is like trying to tap your head, pat your tummy and solve a quadratic equation at the same time. You will become so frustrated trying to do it all you will give up food completely during this diet but still never be able to solve a quadratic equation.

The Low-Fat, High-Carb Diet. Whenever you sit down at the table, you divide your food into those with a minimal amount of fat, like celery stalks and facial tissues, which you put on the left. High-carb foods, like your Subaru’s carburetor, you put on the right. You stare at both piles, then you pull up pictures of Twinkies on your smartphone and begin to salivate, thus losing water-weight gain.

The High-Fat, Low-Carb Diet. This is exactly like what the Low-Fat, High-Carb Diet feels like when it is staring in the mirror.

The South Beach Diet. Spend all the time you would normally devote to eating on walking south on the beach and scorching your toes on burning hot sand. This will keep your mind off Twinkies, unless you happen to step on a discarded Twinkie wrapper. For dietary variety, step on some jagged sea shells, which will take your mind off your scorched toes.

The Mediterranean Diet. On this diet, you are allowed to only eat highly seasoned water that has been imported directly from the Mediterranean and put in an expensive bottle that you might be able to dangle from your belt loop. The premium version of the diet includes an all-expenses-paid trip to Greece and a stay at an AirBnB where the hosts are impossibly thin and extra virgin.

The Paleo Diet. The idea behind this diet is that if you could hunt and gather it, you can eat it. That means yes to meats, fruits and veggies, but no to Devil Dogs, caramel popcorn and Good ‘n’ Plenty, unless you have a license to hunt Good ‘n’ Plenty during the fall breeding season.

Remember, no cereal grains, legumes, dairy and potatoes on this diet, which makes it difficult. But while research isn’t conclusive, one small study has found that after three weeks on this diet subjects had dropped an average of five pounds, mainly by tearing their hair out.

The Good ‘n’ Plenty Diet. For breakfast, eat the white ones first, then the pink ones. Then for lunch, work in the opposite direction, balancing your intake. For dinner, gobble them both up at the same time.  You may not lose weight, but you’ll make your dentist happy.

 

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Recently, I wrote about the importance of exercise and how if we want to both live longer and live better, we have to exercise even if it kills us. I noted that this is particularly true for anyone getting older, which research has shown appears to be most of us.

In fact, according to a new study published in either The Lancet or Teen People, aging patients who met the guidelines of at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week found that they did not have to wear East Williamsburg hipster fedoras to appear to be younger and hipper.

But I failed to explain exactly what moderate exercise is.

Well, to begin with, we need to take 10,000 steps a day. To break that down into specifics, it means that every minute of the day we must take at least 6.95 steps, even if we are sleeping, eating or reading studies published in Teen People.

To get even healthier and fitter, we also should aim for 30 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity four or five days a week as well as 72 minutes of figuring out what aerobic means, 24 minutes determining how to spell it and 19 minutes of deciding whether feverish manipulating of the remote control qualifies.

Aerobic exercise, which is sometimes known as cardio and occasionally known as Bob, is technically exercise that requires pumping of oxygenated blood by the heart to deliver oxygen to working muscles. Aerobic exercises, for example, would be jogging, swimming or screaming at the television set during a presidential press conference. In other words, it’s exercise that makes you gasp and unable to finish a sent … .

But to be truly fit, cardio isn’t enough. We also need strength training. We need to build up our muscle mass and get stronger so that when we are doing our cardio it doesn’t hurt as much. Also, weight-training helps you lose weight by increasing your metabolism which is the little neurological system inside you that regulates your metabols.

The question is, how do you fit all this essential physical activity into an already busy day?  There are ways.

  • Set your alarm early. Get up at 1 a.m. You can do this if you go to bed at 3 in the afternoon while making believe you are sending out work emails.
  • Turn your commute into a workout. If you are driving, whenever you come to a red light, get out of the car, run around your vehicle twice and then if the traffic has moved on, get into someone else’s car and ask them to drop you at the office. This also has social benefits.
  • Exercise at work. Instead of sitting immobile staring at a monitor, every 15 minutes reach your arms above your head, stretch out your feet and recite the prologue to the Canterbury Tales. This will work your arms, your legs and your olde English.
  • Sneak in a workout during your lunch break. Order a very large pastrami sandwich. Lift it over your head five times. Rest. Lift the pickle.
  • Multitask. While exercising, think of stopping.

Welcome to your personal patient portal, created by your physician to give you digital access to all your medical records while scaring the bejeezus out of you.

On our home page, you will first find your health summary and a list of all your past medical conditions, even if you continue to insist that you never had chicken pox and it was just allergies. You will be able to discover that despite vowing to give up high fructose corn syrup 11 years ago, you’ve still got the profile of a pretty sick puppy.

You also will find on the home page all the diseases you are likely to contract over the next couple of weeks, particularly if you will be on an airplane sitting next to someone who is sneezing. And you will be sitting next to someone who is sneezing. (We are not counting as serious symptoms here that pain you sometimes feel just above your right hip or that sound in your chest you think you hear every time you swallow an avocado, assuming that both are just part of your excessive hypochondria. We are pretty sure neither pain is a sign of incipient mad cow disease.)

On the right side of the page are listed your current diagnoses, written in formal medicalese so you will be sure you actually have Ebola instead. These diagnoses include, but are not limited to:

Chiroptophobia

Fear of baseball bats

Pes planu

Hyperlepidoptera

When, in a panic, you look these conditions up, you will find out you have a fear of bats, a fear of baseball bats, fallen arches on both your feet and an excessive amount of butterflies.

Also on the home page will be your list of allergies. While you may not be allergic to all of the substances listed, frankly, why take a chance?

Now go to the page that lists your medications. In cases where it is applicable, we have used the incomprehensible generic name so you will have no idea if this is the medicine for your gout or for werewolf syndrome.

Continuing on, you will come to the results page, where you will find the results of all the tests you have taken, including the prostate exam, the cholesterol screening and the PSAT. The results of those exams are written in formulas like 2.3x10E3/uL, so good luck.

Next, click on the button that will take you to the page where you can ask your medical providers questions that they will not respond to. If the question is particularly urgent, make sure to get in touch with your friend Kim, the one who’s married to the cardiologist, before typing.

If you want to obtain a new prescription or refill an old prescription, go to the page that’s called “Prescriptions.” Do not go to the page that’s called “Treatments for Werewolf Syndrome.” You will note on this page that we do not do prescriptions through our patient portal.

A couple of years ago, I decided that I was going to try to run a half-marathon. I thought it would be a good test of my physical fitness, my determination, my perseverance and my utter cluelessness. It didn’t matter how old I was, I thought; I could be just as stupid as I used to be.

I never did run that half-marathon. I would like now to explain why.

First, I found out that a full marathon is indeed 26.2 miles long, or 26.1 miles longer than walking to the mailbox to get the mail. Second, I found out that a half-marathon is, in fact, half a marathon.

To get a better grasp of what that means: technically speaking, it’s 13.1 miles, 21.08 kilometers or, in England, 16.7 imperial liters. It’s a lot of liters. It is, in fact, the equivalent of running to the supermarket, then running back home, then finding out you didn’t buy anything at the supermarket and having to run all the way back, just for a loaf of bread.

And then it turns out the supermarket is closed. And that’s assuming that the bread was any good and the supermarket was only one state away, and mostly downhill.

In addition, I discovered, you can’t just run a half-marathon without preparation apparently. You need to train for it. I would have much preferred that meant I needed to book on Amtrak. But it turns out that means doing a lot of running even before you have to do a lot of running.

Yes, I know it seems unfair.

In particular, in training for a long race, you are supposed to start small and build up over time. I was fine with starting small. I was so fine with it, I stayed small.

You are supposed to slowly increase your mileage until running a half-marathon is as easy as going to the supermarket and buying a loaf of bread. We know how that turned out.

When I was training, after running about three or four miles I would begin to get that certain feeling you get, that runner’s high — you know, that moment when you are certain you are surely going to die.

My feet would swell, my legs would hurt, my back would ache and my breathing would be labored. It was sort of like when I’m watching a presidential press conference.

In addition, all that preparation to run a half-marathon takes a lot of time, and, frankly, I’m a very busy person. I have naps to take, emails from acquaintances to ignore, dishes in the sink not to wash. Sometimes, I have to spend whole days figuring out how many characters I have left when I want to tweet something.

But perhaps the most important reason I gave up on my half-marathon quest was that I found out I could just buy one of those “13.1” bumper stickers and not have to prove that I earned it.

The last time I had a really good night’s sleep was Nov. 4, 2009. It was terrific, although I may have been dreaming.

Since then, not so good. I sometimes go to bed too early, I sometimes get up too soon, I toss, I turn, I worry about the National Security Council while I should be snoring.

I blame it all on the mattress, mainly because my wife said I absolutely can’t blame it on her. And, in fact, it actually might be the mattress’ fault.

We’ve had this mattress since the early part of the century, and I’m not sure which century. It has a lot of miles on it, many lumps, several valleys, the occasional gorge and it argues with the pillows on a regular basis. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

When you turn over on this mattress, it creaks. When you don’t turn over, it creaks. When you look at it or talk to it, it creaks. Sometimes it whines, occasionally it comments online on news articles, generally using a fake Facebook account.

So we’ve decided it’s time to get a new mattress. To that end, we have been doing our research.

What we want, of course, is something simple — white, rectangular, feels good, no lumps, no online comments. But mattresses, it turns out, come in an overwhelming number of varieties, including pistachio.

You can get memory foam or latex foam, adjustable air or inner spring, pillow top or super pillow top, low calorie or high fructose. There are posturepedic and tempur-pedic, naturepedic, orthopedic, encyclopedic.

Really, we just want a plain pedic, as long as it doesn’t have lumps.

So we went out to the mattress store to narrow the choice down to just a couple of hundred possibilities.

But here’s the real problem with trying to check out and ultimately buy a mattress: it’s not like going to the supermarket and checking out a honeydew melon. You can’t just squeeze it or smell it or roll it down the supermarket aisle toward the lettuces.

The only way to decide on whether to buy a mattress is to make believe you’re sleeping on it.

You have to do this with your shoes on, while wearing your winter coat, in the middle of a brightly lit showroom, with lots of people around, music playing, with a sales person asking if he could get you a cup of coffee and with other customers making fun of your Hello Kitty jammies.

Nevertheless, we did it. We lay down on mattress after mattress. I liked the extra firm ones. My wife liked the extra soft ones. I preferred the Euro-Flex-Supreme. Her favorite was the Plush-Hybrid-Cushion-Firm.

We decided to buy a honeydew melon instead.

Before ordering from our sustainable, farm-to-table, locally sourced, seasonally focused, regionally based, hormone-free, slow-cooked, artisanal, low-sodium, high cholesterol, pan-Asian fusion menu, do you have any questions?

Yes, we can assure you, all our dishes are gluten-free. There is absolutely no extra cost for the gluten, although for parties of six or more, we do require an 18-percent cover charge, a 20-percent gratuity and no check-splitting.

No, none of our dishes have been produced on equipment that also may have been used to process products that might contain linguini. Do you think we’re nuts?

If you’re concerned about any lactose allergies, none of our products include lactose except for the milkshakes, the cheeses, the ice cream, any butter that’s on the table, our puddings, custards, creams, cheesecake and yes, our milk. We do offer, however, a number of lactose substitutes, such as Cheerios.

In addition, you’ll be relieved to know that no one on our wait staff is lactose intolerant. Some of their best friends, in fact, have milked a fixation with lactose for all its worth. They won’t ask and they won’t tell if lactose shows up unannounced and without a reservation, as long as it’s not Friday or Saturday nights.

For those of you who also have problems with soy products, oy.

However, if you do have a dairy allergy, we’d recommend against ordering most anything on the menu but particularly watch out for the egg salad on quinoa unless you’re sure about how to pronounce quinoa.

There is, though, no need to be concerned about our shellfish since it’s all humanely harvested, mainly because we could not get robots to do the work. The shellfish are locally sourced, as well, which wasn’t easy considering we are 120 miles from the coast, which is a long day trip, and it’s really difficult to find a weekend condo at the beach this time of year.

If you can’t eat meat, that’s not a problem because we do have a number of vegetarian options and a series of questions to determine if you’re not eating meat for philosophical reasons, dietary restrictions, humanitarian concerns, purely esthetic principles or if you’re just being really difficult. If it turns out you’re just being really difficult, we’ll keep asking if everything’s OK or if you want more water just when you start to chew.

Finally, for any of you worried about growing an extra eye in the middle of your forehead, particularly during the entree course, you’ll be happy to know that we only use GMOs when we have run out of BBQ and BLT from our local GNC.

Do you have any more questions? Or would you like a few more minutes before you decide what you’re allowed to eat?

 

Welcome to the gym. All around you can see sleek, powerful and highly effective exercise machines designed to strengthen you, firm you up and remind you of the Spanish Inquisition.

Each of these machines targets a particular area of your body that you somehow may not already have abused by accident. These machines will help you achieve all your fitness goals, including losing weight, toning your torso and figuring out what BMI means.

It’s important to use these machines correctly, so you only hurt one part of your body at a time. So let’s take a look at each of the exercise machines, and learn how to use them, what they can do and whether your health insurance will pay for the damage.

With the lat pull-down/chest extension/leg curl, first choose your weight and sit on the machine with your legs under the pad (feet pointed forward, teeth clenched, brain terrified) and hands holding the side bars with mouth rounded to better allow you to scream. This will be your starting position.

Remember, if the angle of your elbow is less than 90-degrees, that means your ulna is already dislocated and you should go to the emergency room as soon as possible, or after you do 10 reps, whichever comes first.

For the triceps extension/sealed dip/abdominal crunch, make sure that you adjust the knee pad of the machine to fit your height and prevent you from flying across the gym floor and into the sauna before you’ve requested a towel.

Grab the bar with the palms facing forward using the prescribed grip. If you haven’t already gotten a prescription for the grip, see your healthcare provider. Have both arms extended in front of you holding the bar at the chosen grip width, then bring your torso back around 30 degrees until you hear something crack. Exhale.

The hip abductor/triceps press/pec fly takes your hips and flies them to Brooklyn, where they can work the triceps by making artisanal pickles. During your reps, the upper torso should remain stationary, the lower torso should be frozen in fear and only the arms should move while you whimper.

With the biceps curl/lateral raise/pec fly/seated chest contortioner, you always need to remember to breathe out when you bring the bar down until it touches your upper chest before shouting for help. This machine will work your pecs, your delts, your glutes and any other muscle groups with whom you are on a first name basis.

If you do not know your delts from your glutes, be careful while putting on your pants.

When using the shoulder hoist/leg press/triceps twirl/lateral raise, you will need to adjust the pad so that it falls on top of your lower leg (just above the scar from the hip abductor/triceps press/pec fly). Also, make sure that your legs form a 90-degree angle so you can get up from the machine quickly before it comes crashing down.

On the other hand, you could take our Zumba class.

To me — or rather, to my body, with whom I’m in semi-regular contact — it’s still yesterday evening at 9:41. On the other hand, it may actually be 4:31 a.m. tomorrow. That’s if today is Monday. Or maybe it’s Wednesday.

Actually, I’m not quite sure what day it is. That’s because I’m still suffering from jet lag.

I recently returned from a long-distance trip across a dozen time zones, which forced me to change my watch 12 separate times and eat breakfast again and again since it continued to be morning somewhere. While the Cheerios were OK and the turkey bacon was fine, though it doesn’t get as crisp as you would like, the jet lag isn’t.

Technically speaking, jet lag is desynchronosis or, among friends, circadian dysrhythmia. That is, it’s a condition with many syllables that no one really understands or can do anything about. It causes fatigue, difficulty concentrating and irritability. It also has some negative impacts.

You go to bed at the wrong time. You wake up at the wrong time. You do your laundry when you still have some clean pants left. You sometimes think you’re in Cincinnati. And worst of all, you can’t find your sunglasses even though they are on top of your head.

In other words, jet lag is pretty much like regular life, just someplace else and at a different time.

Despite wide-ranging research that didn’t harm any animals during testing and didn’t actually come up with any results, there are no real cures for jet lag. There are, however, many suggestions on how to avoid or best deal with it. I have tried them all.

You are supposed to set your watch to the time at your destination in an attempt to re-orient your circadian rhythms even if you couldn’t find your circadian rhythms and had probably left them at the office.

This worked, sort of. My watch wasn’t tired at all by the time I got to my destination. In fact, the minutes kept challenging the seconds to a game of beach volleyball. I, on the other hand, who has never had much rhythm and can’t clap to the beat, even if it’s a slow song, was exhausted.

You are supposed to change your sleep routine in advance of travel.

I did this. Instead of falling asleep late and getting up too early, I fell asleep too early and got up even earlier. I also alternated pillows.

Still exhausted.

It is suggested that you take melatonin, which is a natural supplement that is so natural it is gluten-free and doesn’t include even a smidgen of kale. It is made of air and a little bit of light. It is supposed to naturally help adjust the body’s natural clock, mainly by pressing the natural hour button four times and then hitting, naturally, defrost.

I took two pills yesterday evening. Or maybe that was today. On the other hand, it could have been tomorrow.

 

 

I went to the emergency room the other week. I also went to the emergency room the other week.

That’s right, I went to the emergency room twice in the past couple of weeks. It’s becoming a habit, although, to be honest, I’d prefer crocheting.

Actually, the first time I went to the emergency room it was for my wife. The second time was for me. After all these years of marriage, I am still very competitive.

In both cases, we went to the emergency room for what we perceived to be an emergency but which turned out only to be something much worse — getting older. It appears to be incurable.

We left the emergency room generally feeling fine except for the acute pain of the bill, which included names of doctors we hadn’t seen, medicines we didn’t know we took, tests we don’t remember having and a lifetime subscription to Time magazine that we can’t recall ordering.

Also, we did not get the buy-one-visit, get-one-visit-free discount.

But we did learn a lot about how the emergency room operates, although we did not, in fact, see any operations. Next time, we’ll buy tickets when they first go on sale, as long as we can get good seats.

So if you, too, are planning to get away from all the shopping over the holiday period and head on over to the emergency room, here are the things you should know.

• Don’t still be in your pajamas when you go to the emergency room because the likelihood is that you will stay in your pajamas for a long time, and if your pajamas are anything like my pajamas, you will have to do a lot of explaining why a person your age still has Lady and the Tramp pajamas.

• Get your story straight. You will have to repeat your story of why you are in the emergency room every time someone in medical attire comes over to you, so you want to make sure you are telling the same story each time and not confusing the pain in your arm with the time you stuck a fork in your knee. 

• Because they are polite, the medical people all will ask, “How are you?” The appropriate response is not “fine,” because if you were fine, would you really choose to be in the emergency room when you could be home eating mint chocolate chip ice cream?

• When emergency room personnel tell you that the test results will be back soon, make sure you understand that “soon” really means “not soon.” In fact, the whole idea of time is different in the emergency room. New doctors, nurses and technicians will come and go while you are still there, and then they will come back again after having gone home for the holidays, seen their families and renewed their driver’s licenses.

• Meanwhile, you will still be there, along with Lady and the Tramp.